East London

Published on February 11th, 2015 | by Clarissa Waldron

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Caterina 55, Moorgate

Caterina 55, Moorgate Clarissa Waldron
Food
Venue
Service
Value

Summary: A City-based fast food venue with an Italian-inspired menu, focusing on flavour and fresh preparation

4.2

Italian Fast Food


Caterina55, located a short walk from Moorgate station, exudes a mixed persona. Surrounded by sleek, glass skyscrapers; it initially unveils a bright, contemporary-interior hallway where you make your way down into the restaurant.

Here is where the Italian eatery changes, as its new age décor merges into a spacious unit with Ikea-esque furniture and layout. Aside from this medley, Caterina55 has introduced an unfamiliar concept to London: home-made Italian fast-food. You could argue that that is exactly what pizza is, however, pizza is thin on the ground at Caterina55. In fact, at the recent press evening that we were kindly invited to, pizza made no appearance!

Instead we sampled chicken balls, a range of pasta pots and a selection of Italian burgers to name a few. Sounds like fast food with an Italian twist now doesn’t it? But what makes this place so different from the usual fast-food outlets is that it prides itself on using fresh ingredients without the addition of flavourings or preservatives.
While McDonald’s have recently revealed there are 19 ingredients in their famous French fries, at Caterina55, you can be guaranteed the delicious chunky chips are 100% potato. Speaking to manager, Stefania Farina, we learned that the premises doesn’t even have any freezers – such is their dedication to freshly prepared, wholesome Italian food made fast.

Recreating the flavours of North-West Italy, the onslaught of fresh, zingy and robust flavours commenced with the succulent chicken balls that we learned are 100% chicken breast, minced up in Caterina55’s own kitchen. It is then mixed with garlic and herbs, shaped, dipped in breadcrumbs and fried, served with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise.

ChunkySoupandCalamari

Chunky Soup (l) & Calamari (r)

 

Espresso pots of chunky soup arrived next to warm us, served with croutons on the side, and would certainly act as a filling lunchtime meal for the many City and office workers roundabout.

Quintessential Italian cooking followed, with the arrival of Lasagnes; Classic and Pesto. While they looked quite rubbery and uninspiring, the Pesto version was a winner. Its flavours were richer, tastier and more noticeable than the slice of Classic Lasagne, which didn’t appear to have a lot of meat within. Furthermore, the Pesto Lasagne is made without parmesan in the sauce, allowing for it to be suitable for vegetarians and those who are lactose intolerant.

LasagnesAndSalmonPasta

Lasagne & Salmon Pasta

 

Agreeably, burgers aren’t associated with Italian cooking, and are perhaps included on the menu here to enforce the fast-food aspect of Caterina55. Regardless, the burgers on the night disappeared very quickly and we only managed to sample a piece of the Classic Beef Burger and the Chickpea Burger. The Chickpea Burger was a knockout, encompassed by a hefty, seeded, soft bun as well as homemade yogurt and curry sauce, so much so that I was about to ask for the recipe!

ChickpeaBurger

Chickpea Burger

 

But then the Fried Calamari was served. With a name derived from the Italian language, we had to see Catarina55’s take on this one! Served to us in little pots, along with a wedge of lemon, it was cooked to perfection – which is no mean feat, often becoming rubbery when over fried. Our only concern here was the price point – on a surprisingly cheap menu, it was nearly three times the price of the other contending snack options. Because of this noticeable point, it would have been interesting to see the normal portion size when ordered à la carte.

Pasta dishes are also a signature on the menu, and for those searching for a healthy and filling meal you won’t be disappointed. Penne is drizzled in a creamy sauce, with a slight stickiness, and served with mixed in pieces of smoked salmon, while a delicious tomato-based sauced was poured over Rigatoni pasta and dressed with parsley and parmesan. Both excellent choices.

RIGATONI AMATRICIANA

Rigatoni Amatriciana

 

While we were initially bewildered by the restaurant’s layout and ambience, the setting was relaxed, vibrant and fun – helped by the live music, a regular feature, which was performed by students from the next door School of Music and Drama. The service was friendly and interactive proving that Caterina55 are super passionate about that they do, while the food was inspiring and satisfying with some minor teething troubles.

Plans are now in motion to extend the bar area of the restaurant by revamping a corner of the unit, which will certainly see it become an all-day drinking and dining destination suitable for the City workers, students, passers-by and visitors from the Barbican.

Caterina 55, The Heron, 5 Moor Lane, EC2Y 9AP

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